Friday, June 28, 2013

Horse Slaughter Plant Wins Tentative Approval in New Mexico

Don't give up the fight for America's horses!!  Let's get SAFE passed!!  Please contact your legislators today!  

Use these links to find your legislators to give them a call or send them an email and be sure to thank them if they are already a cosponsor!  ~Declan


Horse slaughter plant wins tentative approval in New Mexico

Horse slaughter
Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., which has been idle for more than a year, could begin slaughtering horses. (Jeri Clausing / Associated Press / June 28, 2013)

June 28, 20134:07 p.m.

LAS VEGAS – Federal officials on Friday approved a Roswell, N.M., company’s application to convert its cattle slaughterhouse into a horse processing plant in a move that paves the way for the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S  

Officials also indicated that they would soon grant similar permits to facilities in Iowa and Missouri.
Animal welfare groups on Friday immediately said they would sue to halt the move – the latest face-off in the debate over the treatment of animals that over the years have come to symbolize the American West.

Two groups, the U.S. Humane Society and Front Range Equine Rescue, said in a release that they would  fight the government in court. They say the approval is premature in light of building momentum in Washington to continue the ban on horse slaughter. The last U.S. slaughterhouse closed in 2006.

Humane Society officials pointed out that the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees have voted to halt all funding for horse slaughter for fiscal year 2014.

The group says the USDA’s approval Friday pending inspections means that the agency could spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start such reviews of horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in coming months.

“The USDA’s decision to start up domestic horse slaughter, while at the same time asking Congress to defund it, is bizarre and unwarranted," Jonathan Lovvorn, the Humane Society's senior vice president, said in a statement.

“We intend to hold the Obama administration accountable in federal court for this inhumane, wasteful and illegal decision.”

Owners of Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, which applied for the federal license, could not be reached for comment. The company has said it wants to export the horse meat.

It was not clear when the plant would begin operations or when federal authorities might conduct the promised inspection. Animal activists say they plan to picket the plant if it begins slaughtering horses.

Activists say that many domestic horses receive regular drug regimens that could be harmful to humans if the meat is consumed or if runoff from animal offal mixes with drinking water.
Bruce Wagman, a lawyer representing Front Range Equine Rescue, said the USDA is breaking the law. “They have failed to engage in the environmental review of a potentially toxic environmental hazard," he told the Los Angeles Times.

USDA officials say they are bound by law to approve the permit.

"Since Congress has not yet acted to ban horse slaughter inspection, FSIS is legally required to issue a grant of inspection today to Valley Meats in Roswell, N.M., for equine slaughter,” the agency's statement said.

It said federal law requires the government to approve an application for inspection once a plant has met all requirements, as the Roswell facility has. “The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter. Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law," the agency said.

Rick De Los Santos, owner of the New Mexico facility, sued the Department of Agriculture last year, alleging that the agency was stalling its review of the application because of public pressure. The lawsuit charged that the delays had cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. The USDA reinspected the plant earlier this year.

The horse slaughter issue has also played out in Washington, where President Obama is at odds with Congress over the issue. The administration’s recent budget proposal eliminates funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, which would effectively reinstate a ban on the practice.

Congress eliminated such funding in 2006, which forced a shutdown of domestic slaughter facilities, but restored the funding in 2011. That action prompted several companies nationwide, including Valley Meat, to seek permission to open plants.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Friday also criticized the USDA’s decision.
“The writing is on the wall – Americans don’t want our horses slaughtered, here or in any other country. Moving ahead with a government program to fund horse slaughter inspections is a cruel, reckless and fiscally irresponsible move,” said Nancy Perry, ASPCA senior vice president for government relations.

“The USDA is knowingly diverting tax dollars from programs that protect American consumers to programs that jeopardize them. It is time for Congress to take action to prevent American horses from suffering this terrible fate and stop horse slaughter in the U.S. once and for all.”

Feds Approve Horse Slaughterhouse in NM; Say Permits Coming for Iowa and Missouri

PLEASE contact your legislators TODAY and ask them to cosponsor and support the SAFE Act (H.R.1094/S.541).

Use these links to find your legislators to give them a call or send them an email and be sure to thank them if they are already a cosponsor!  ~Declan


Feds approve horse slaughterhouse in NM; say permits coming for Iowa, Missouri companies

Jeri Clausing, File/Associated Press - FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows Valley Meat Co., which has been sitting idle for more than a year, waiting for the Department of Agriculture to approve its plans to slaughter horses. Federal officials have granted the southeastern New Mexico company’s request to open a horse slaughterhouse, adding Friday June 28,2013 that they plan to grant similar permits to operations in Iowa and Missouri

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal officials cleared the way Friday for a return to domestic horse slaughter, granting a southeastern New Mexico company’s application to convert its cattle facility into a horse processing plant.
In approving Valley Meat Co. plans to produce horse meat, USDA officials also indicated that they would grant similar permits to companies in Iowa and Missouri as early as next week.
With the action, the Roswell, N.M., company is set to become the first operation in the nation licensed to process horses into meat since Congress effectively banned the practice seven years ago.
The company has been fighting for approval from the Department of Agriculture for more than a year with a request that ignited an emotional debate over whether horses are livestock or domestic companions.
The decision comes more than six months after Valley Meat Co. sued the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying the process because the Obama Administration opposes horse slaughter...

<CLICK HERE> to read the full article posted on the Washington Post.

It is more important than ever to contact your legislators and ask them to cosponsor and support SAFE (H.R.1094/S.541) and to fight for protection of America's horses from slaughter and transport to slaughter!! 

PLEASE CALL TODAY and tell them you do not want your tax dollars to be spent on horse slaughter!  The fate of our horses and burros both domestic and wild, lies in our hands - we HAVE GOT TO FIGHT for them!  Use these links to find your legislators and their contact information:



PLEASE stand up and be a voice for our horses!!  It only takes a few minutes to make your call and be counted as one of the over 80% who are AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER in our country!  

I will fight until we have won for the horses!!  ~Declan

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Military Veterans Partner With Horses To Combat PTSD

Horses help people - they are not a burden we need to "get rid of"!  I am so happy these veterans are getting the help they need by working with horses.  ~Declan

Central Indiana military veterans partner with horses to combat post-traumatic stress disorder

Jun. 23, 2013  As posted on IndyStar
Written by
Phil Richards

Veterans find peace with horses: Wounded veterans find peace while working with horses at Strides to Success in Plainfield.
    Doug McLaughlin wasn’t hoping to die. Neither was he particularly interested in avoiding it when he bought his motorcycle in 1998.

    “Maybe I had a death wish,” he said. “I just didn’t care.”

    Speed and desperation proved a near-fatal cocktail. He lost control and hit a car head-on. The bike was totaled. McLaughlin was lucky; he spent four days in the hospital.

    What he didn’t know then was that he needed a horse, not a motorcycle.

    McLaughlin, like a number of Central Indiana veterans with issues deriving from their military service, is working with horses and learning life skills from them. He is enrolled at “Strides to Success,” a Plainfield farm accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Strides is one of more than 850 PATH centers worldwide, but it has achieved “premier accreditation” by maintaining the association’s highest standards.

    Veterans — and civilian clients with problems ranging from attention deficit disorder to emotional/behavioral issues, abuse, autism and learning impairment — partner with horses. They learn lessons in trust, respect, communication, cooperation and leadership, said Debbie Anderson, Strides’ founder and executive director and a PATH-certified instructor assisted by recreational therapist Blair McKissock.

    “They make you face your fears,” said Nick Bennett, Franklin, who suffered crippling and near-fatal injuries during a rocket attack while serving as a Marine in Iraq in 2004. “You meet yourself in your horse. He just seems to sense what’s needed.”

    Horses are herd animals, Anderson explained. As such, they live in an established hierarchy with acknowledged leaders. They are willing to be led.

    Sessions involve teaching veterans the skills necessary to lead a 1,200-pound animal through various activities and challenges. A veteran must establish a relationship with his or her horse and earn its trust, respect and cooperation. There is a language to be learned.

    An agitated client is met with an agitated horse. A disengaged client finds his or her horse to be disengaged. Calm begets calm. Engagement begets engagement.

    “Everything else kind of disappears,” said Jasmin Ward, 28, Beech Grove, a former Marine military policeman. “I talk to (Goose, her pony) like she’s a human being and she understands me.”

    At the end of a session, discussion revolves around the veteran’s observations of the horse’s interaction and behavior and comparing it to his or her own. The objective is to process the lessons learned during the session and apply them in everyday life.

    “The reason it works so well is the horse provides immediate feedback,” Anderson said. “Horses respond in the moment. If a person is depressed and has zippo personal energy, the horse isn’t going to do anything.

    “Our veterans hear it from the horse so much better than a human talking at them. Horses give honest feedback. We build on that.”

    Mounting a new life

    David Moors, 29, Indianapolis, served as a Navy prison guard, among other things, during his 2008-09 tour of duty in Iraq.

    His left shoulder socket was destroyed, his biceps, triceps and pectoral muscles torn and his occipital nerve and two vertebrae damaged when team members dragged him out of a murderous mob during a Death Row prison riot.

    Moors came home to nightmares and panic attacks, fear of crowds and moments of blind rage. He hated civilians. He didn’t understand why, only that he no longer fit.

    He became involved in the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to fostering “the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”

    As was the case with McLaughlin, Bennett and Ward, WWP referred Moors to “Strides to Success.” It was a life-changing connection.

    “It was crazy. It was after my second or third session I had this, like, breakthrough,” Moors said. “I was just so much calmer. It was wow.

    “You leave here and it’s like, I learned all this stuff today. You process it, and a couple hours later, the next day, you just slowly see it working.”

    From the time Moors’ post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was diagnosed, he was determined to overcome it, not to be defined by it. He underwent Navy therapy. He got on medication. He pursued more therapy through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Nothing worked like the VETS program at Strides. Moors felt it. His wife reveled in it. Courtney Moors found her husband of eight years calmer, more able to cope with stress, suffering fewer nightmares.

    “Sitting and talking to somebody in an office did nothing compared to learning the different skills he learned with the horse therapy,” she said.

    “He’s not as afraid to go out in public, and he doesn’t seem to be as much a loner. He has a better way of communicating, and that has really helped our family. We don’t shout to have a conversation.”

    The sweetest payoff has been with the Moors’ daughters, Victoria, 8, and Nicole, 5. They come readily to Dad now.

    Moors still has bad days, but he is enrolled at Ivy Tech, earning his prerequisites with the intention of transferring to IUPUI to earn a degree in environmental health and safety.

    You might say he’s saddling up his future.

    Summoning the leader within

    A 2012 Veterans Affairs study revealed that nearly 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans treated at the department’s facilities suffer from PTSD, an anxiety disorder that can result from a traumatic experience and cause flashbacks, nightmares, depression, withdrawal and isolation, panic attacks and psychic numbing.

    A 2008 RAND Corp. study placed the figure higher, at 20 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan service members.

    McLaughlin, 37, Greenwood, fit the profile. He just didn’t know it. He was thrust into combat in 1996. His PTSD wasn’t diagnosed until 2010.

    McLaughlin was an army tanker. He served in a quick reaction force in Bosnia, and he came home in 1997 a different man. The sounds of explosions and gunfire didn’t die. The gory visions of genocide remained vivid.

    He divorced his wife. He withdrew. He held the world at arm’s length.

    “I’ve burned bridges with friends and family,” McLaughlin said. “I didn’t know what the problem was. They didn’t know what the problem was. They just told me I’m changed.”

    McLaughlin went from active duty to reserve. He went to work.

    He passed the rigorous U.S. Postal Service exam, survived the ultra-competitive application process and became a letter carrier. He quit. He couldn’t deal with the stress.

    McLaughlin took the classes, underwent the training and passed the rigorous firefighter’s exam. He survived the ultra-competitive application process and became a firefighter. He quit again. He couldn’t deal with the stress.

    McLaughlin wasn’t a drinker before Bosnia. He drank to excess afterward. He wasn’t a brawler before Bosnia. After, there were bar fights and scrapes. Anger was a huge issue, as were nightmares and awakening in sweats. He lost confidence. He lost his sense of self.

    McLaughlin’s sessions at Strides have been healing, life-turning. He was so passive initially he couldn’t engage his horse, Onyx. He had to summon lost energy and authority and project them. The carryover into daily life has been dramatic.

    “What’s the magic? That’s a good question,” said McLaughlin, a Los Angeles native who settled in Greenwood during a tour of duty at Camp Atterbury. “The horse senses there’s a leader in everyone. You’ve just got to find it.”

    Onyx helped him.

    McLaughlin has undergone 10 surgeries for service-connected problems over the past nine years. His medical retirement is pending after 19 years in the military. He is more calm and peaceful. He has completed his master’s in business administration and is considering options to open a business. His sense of self and personal authority is being restored, absolute prerequisites to launching a startup.

    “He’s more confident. I feel like his self-esteem is coming back,” said Janette McLaughlin, an Army pharmacist technician and Doug’s wife of nine years. “I feel like this is a new start. He seems much happier. It’s been a good thing for us.”

    Healing the whole

    WWP’s faith in horse therapy is such that it has resulted in a partnership with PATH. WWP awarded the association a $200,000 grant for the purpose of providing scholarships to veterans at PATH centers across the country.

    One-hour sessions that typically run $75 to $100 at Strides, which also is taking referrals from Roudebush VA Medical Center, cost veterans nothing. Treatment normally consists of 10 sessions, but follow-ups can be worked out when deemed necessary.

    “Mondays are my favorite day: horse day,” said Beth Schubert, a Roudebush recreational therapist who accompanies a group of four veterans to their weekly Strides sessions. “My goal always is to improve the quality of life and for (veterans) to feel they have a purpose in life.”

    Strides, Schubert has found, is profoundly effective in those regards.

    Bennett is undergoing extra sessions. His healing has been mental, emotional and physical.

    He stands in the middle of a corral, directing Gunner, a mischievous 12-year-old paint. Bennett motions Gunner in. The horse approaches for a rub on the nose. Bennett motions Gunner back. The horse backs out. Bennett signals for Gunner to trot around the corral’s perimeter, then to reverse direction and trot again. The horse complies.

    Bennett loves Gunner. Theirs is a strong and well-founded relationship. Bennett is lost in the exercise. He holds a “carrot stick,” a 4-foot rod with a leather tail, in his left hand. He controls the horse with it.

    Bennett nearly lost that hand in Iraq. His wrist is fused, the hand barely capable of clenching the stick, but he is learning to use it and to get past his self-consciousness regarding its dramatic disfigurement.

    “Gunner doesn’t care about what’s happened in the past,” said Bennett, who is deeply involved in vets-helping-vets activities. “He’s given me faith in my left hand. It’s amazing how he’s transformed my life. I have such a peace leaving here.”

    The VETS program at Strides is as fascinating as the veterans it serves and the problems with which they grapple. What matters most is outcomes. They bear a resemblance: peace reins.

    World's Oldest Genome Sequences From 700,000 Year-Old Horse DNA

    How cool is this?!  ~Declan

    A group of Przewalski&#x27;s horses.
    A group of Przewalski's horses, once considered extinct in the wild.
    Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic
    A horse skull.
    Photograph courtesy D.G. Froese via Nature
    Jane J. Lee
    Published June 26, 2013
    DNA shines a light back into the past, showing us things that fossils can't. But how far back can that light extend?
    Some of the oldest DNA sequences come from mastodonand polar bear fossils about 50,000 and 110,000 years old, respectively. But anew study published online today in the journal Nature reports the latest in the push for recovering ever more ancient DNA sequences. Samples from a horse leg bone more than 700,000 years old have yielded the oldest full genome known to date.
    "We knew that sequencing ancient genomes as old as 70,000 to 80,000 years old was possible," said Ludovic Orlando, an evolutionary geneticist with the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. "So we said, why not try even further back in time?"
    The Pleistocene horse genome Orlando and colleagues pieced together helped them determine that the ancestor to the Equus lineage—the group that gave rise to modern horses, zebras, and donkeys—arose 4 to 4.5 million years ago, or about two million years earlier than previously thought. (Learn more about the evolution of horses.)
    The ancient horse genome also allowed the team to determine the evolutionary relationship between modern domestic horses and the endangered Przewalski's horse, a native to the Mongolian steppes that represents the last living breed of wild horse.
    The team found that Przewalski's horses were an offshoot of the lineage that gave rise to domestic horses. The two groups diverged around 50,000 years ago.
    Once considered extinct in the wild, Przewalski's horse was re-introduced into the wild from a captive population of only a few dozen. While this number suggests that the genetic diversity of the species might be too small to support, the study shows that Przewalski's horses are in fact more genetically diverse than domestic breeds such as Arabian and Icelandic horses.
    "We think that there's enough genetic diversity within the Przewalski's horse to keep conservation efforts viable," Orlando said.
    Cold Storage
    Extracting ancient genomes from long-dead samples is labor intensive, and there is a limit to how far back one can go.
    Studies on the half-life of DNA suggest that even under ideal circumstances, DNA sequences older than 1.5 million years will be too short to be readable. So it's highly unlikely that DNA will be recovered from dinosaurs, since they disappeared 65 million years ago, except for the lineage leading to modern birds.
    But the preservation environment of an ancient sample can help extend the amount of time DNA has before it degrades past the point of being recoverable.
    "Cold is good," said Orlando. Frozen is even better, because liquid water isn't present to degrade DNA molecules.
    The six-inch (15-centimeter) horse leg bone the team analyzed originated in the Yukon Territory of western Canada. Permafrost kept the remains in a kind of cold storage for about 735,000 years until scientists dug it out in 2003.
    To determine whether there might be any biological molecules left in the sample, Orlando and colleagues first looked to see if they could spot amino acids from collagen—a protein found in bone—in the specimen.
    Once they identified and successfully sequenced those proteins, the researchers moved on to trying to extract DNA from the ancient leg bone.
    As is the case with the majority of ancient fossils, most of the DNA they found was from bacteria that had populated the bone after the horse died. Using DNA from modern horses as a reference, the team was able to identify "endogenous" DNA that belonged to the ancient horse itself.
    "We sequenced 12 billion DNA molecules, of which 40 million [were of] horse origin," said Orlando. "There was a bit of horse DNA in an ocean of microbial DNA."
    A New World
    The recovery of a genome almost an order of magnitude older than any previous genomic information opens up a wide range of new targets for studying fossils at the genetic level, possibly including ancient human species, if they lived in cooler environments.
    "You name it—what are your favorite Pleistocene beasts?" wrote Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, in an email.
    Poinar, who was not involved in the current study, would like to see this applied to elephant evolution. "This should address issues related to the origin of hair and size plasticity and how they adapted to very different ecologies."
    He was not surprised that researchers were able to sequence a complete genome from 700,000 years ago. It just takes time and money, Poinar said.
    But he also points out that sequencing ancient genomes is more about preservation in various environments than the age of a specimen. "I am sure there will be older genomes soon enough."

    Middleboro Woman Finds New Homes For Unwanted Horses

    People can EASILY find uses for so called "unwanted" horses if they would just try and honor the horse! ~Declan

    Middleboro woman finds new homes for unwanted horses

    By Jennifer Bray
    Posted Jun 23, 2013 @ 06:00 AM
    Last update Jun 23, 2013 @ 10:09 AM
    As posted on

    Hidden inside the heart of Middleboro horse country is one equestrian who has made it her mission to rescue horses.

    So far, Derel Lee Twombly’s Amazing Grace Equine has saved 71 of the gentle giants.

    Finding new homes for these horses in need is a blend of tenacity, tenderness and technology. Twombly creates videos of horses that need homes and the message spreads like viral wildfire.

    It’s a service that’s given many of her clients, both horse and human, a new lease on life.

    “It’s just been great, it’s been life-changing for me because I didn’t think I would ever ride again,” said Melissa Kerins of Whitman, who is getting ready to celebrate her first year since adopting her rescue horse, Cricket.

    Kerins, who has three children, grew up on a horse farm. She was taking her 11-year-old daughter for riding lessons when she spotted Cricket, a horse she had seen up for adoption on Amazing Grace’s website.

    “At the riding center I asked if I could groom Cricket, and as I brushed her I saw that she was a gentle being,” she recalled.

    Kerins said the next morning, she made up her mind to adopt Cricket and it’s been a therapeutic bond ever since.

    “I’m physically disabled and the horse has been the best therapy for me, she gets me up, out and moving,” she said.

    Cricket is boarded in Carver and Kerins said at least once a week they go for a ride together.

    “She’s so trusting, and she’s in such good shape,” Kerins said. “I didn’t think we would ever ride again and now we are pretty much inseparable.”

    Twombly has been working overtime, finding homes for horses that she says would otherwise be headed on an international trip to the slaughterhouse.

    “We have a tough economy and people have horses that might not be lame or old but need to be re-homed,” she explained.

    Twombly’s been in love with horses ever since she can remember and has spent more than four decades working with them.

    She’s been a certified riding instructor since she was in her teens, and is also the CEO of Ponies for Parties, a company that lets people of any age experience riding.

    Twombly wrote a book, “Horses and People Matching.” But the spark for Amazing Grace Equine Rescue flared when she saw too many horses with a lot of good years being “thrown away."

    “That’s when people can call us,” said Twombly. “And what happens next is a little like a miracle.”

    Twombly makes a video detailing the physical characteristics of the horse, its personality and who would be the best fit for the horse. That video, once it is married to music and edited, then goes to YouTube.

    For many people thinking of adopting an animal, especially one as big as a horse, the responsibility can be daunting.

    Kerins said the staff at Amazing Grace Equine is always available for any questions even after adopting Cricket.

    “Derel Lee is a saint,” said Kerins. “I appreciate them (Amazing Grace Equine) and to think that this horse could have potentially been slaughtered.”

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    It's Not Just About Mustangs: The Battle Over Burros

    THIS CANNOT CONTINUE!!  I can't imagine being treated like this.  The helicopters are flying way too close and are knocking the burros down and the man with the blue shirt is beating a burro, pulling it by the tail and ears, when it obviously just simply cannot get up from exhaustion and probably dehydration (watch his nostrils flare and his sides heaving).   Treating animals this way doesn't make you a "real man", it makes you a COWARD!  We need to leave these poor animals alone and leave them in the wild where they belong!!  ~Declan

    Marietta Wild Burro Range (taken from the BLM website)

    It's not just about mustangs: the battle over burros


    Criticism of roundups is not limited to wild horses. In this video, wild burro advocates document "aggressive" roundup practices.

    By Lisa Myers and Michael Austin  May 14, 2013 8:03am, EDT

    The 'Lone Ranger' Exclusive Clip: Horsing Around

    It's cool how they train horses for movies and what they train them to do.  Did you know they used 4 horses in the role of "Silver" in the movie The Lone Ranger? Here are some clips with the horse(s) while making the movie.  I can't wait to see the movie!  I have to convince my mom first though since it's PG-13  ;-)  ~Declan

    The Lone Ranger' Exclusive Clip: Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer Horse Around (VIDEO)

    Posted June 18th, 2013 12:00PM

    Who would the Lone Ranger be without his horse, Silver?

    In this exclusive, behind-the-scenes "docu-pod," we get a closer look at the horses behind the men of Disney's adaptation of the masked hero's story. We also get a glimpse at what could be the makings of a very funny blooper reel of Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer trying to work with the majestic animals.

    "The Lone Ranger" follows Native American warrior Tonto (Depp) as he recounts the untold tales of what transformed John Reid (Hammer), a man of the law, into an outlaw and a masked symbol of justice.

    Check out the docu-pod below. Depp, Hammer, and their galloping friends can be seen in "The Lone Ranger," in theaters July 3.

    Lawmakers Press for Changes to Wild Horse Program

    I'm so happy that these Representatives are standing up for the wild horses! To see more pictures from the article of a roundup <CLICK HERE>  ~Declan

    Lawmakers press for changes to wild horse program

    A horse wrangler uses a helicopter to herd wild horses into a corral during a gather near Tonopah in 2010.
    Updated Thursday, June 20, 2013 | 1:04 p.m.
    RENO — Thirty U.S. representatives urged new U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Thursday to make a priority out of reforming the government's wild horse management program and its spiraling budget that they say has created an "untenable situation" for both the mustangs and taxpayers.

    Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, wrote the letter appealing to Jewell "as a conservationist and outdoor enthusiast" to help bring "long overdue" changes at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management charged with protecting the horses.

    "Given the importance of wild horses to the American people and considering the ever-tightening budget situation, we believe that this is a problem that demands your urgent attention," he wrote.

    Florida Rep. C.W. Young, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, was the lone Republican to sign the letter.
    The majority of the co-signers were from states in the East and South, but several joined from states that are home to some of the estimated 37,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros on federal land in the West, including Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., five representatives from California and three from Oregon.
    Grijalva said they're asking for renewed attention to the program after an independent scientific review of horse roundups. The review, which was released last month, recommended that the government invest in widespread fertility control of the mustangs and let nature cull any excess herds instead of spending millions to house them in overflowing holding pens.
    The 14-member panel assembled by the National Science Academy's National Research Council and Management concluded BLM's removal of nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past decade is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds.
    By stepping in prematurely when food and water supplies remain adequate, BLM is producing artificial conditions that ultimately serve to perpetuate population growth, the committee stated.
    BLM spokesman Tom Gorey referred inquiries Thursday to Jewell's office where a spokeswoman said press secretary Jessica Kershaw was not immediately available to comment.
    Grijalva said BLM's wild horse budget has doubled since 2009 as the agency "escalated its unsustainable roundup-remove-and-stockpile approach to wild horse management." Last year, BLM spent 60 percent of its wild horse budget on holding facilities alone, more than $40 million.
    "In fact, the U.S. government today maintains more wild horses in captivity than remain in the wild," Grijalva said. "This is an untenable situation, both for America's wild horses and for American taxpayers."

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Wild Horses: No Home on the Range

    This is a GREAT video to give you an overview of what is happening to America's wild horses.  A must watch and share!  ~Declan

    Wild Horses: No Home on the Range

    JUNE 17, 2013
    Retro Report: The decades-long quest to save wild horses has run amok, creating a problem that even swooping helicopters, aging cowboys, camera-savvy activists and millions of dollars can’t solve.

    It seemed like one of those blatant outrages, a case of good versus evil with an easy solution if the United States government would just come to the rescue. Herds of wild horses, brought to this country long ago by Spanish settlers, a symbol of a free American West, were being rounded up, slaughtered and sold to the pet food industry for cheap meat. If something wasn’t done, these beautiful untamed animals would disappear as the buffalo had a century earlier.

    But the public mobilized. There was a huge letter-writing campaign to Congress; an 11-year-old boy persuaded his father, a congressman from Maryland, Gilbert Gude, to file legislation; and in 1971, President Richard M. Nixon signed a bill that made killing the horses a federal crime.
    And then, as this week’s Retro Report video points out, the problems began.
    It turns out that wild horses multiply like rabbits and eat like, well, horses.
    This upsets ranchers whose cattle graze on the same public lands and are competing for the same grass.
    Over the last four decades the horse preservationists have battled the ranchers; federal officials have been caught in the middle, pleasing no one.
    When the Bureau of Land Management decides there is a wild horse surplus, officials round up some of the herds and move them into short-term corrals and long-term pastures. The federal government is caring for about 50,000 of these horses — almost as many horses as there are humans in Cheyenne, Wyo. — making the government the biggest horse owner in the country and perhaps the world.
    There are now more wild horses in captivity than in the wild, according to the B.L.M.
    The cost just for holding them off the range increased to $43 million last year from $7 million in 2000. The total cost of the wild horse program was $75 million in 2012.
    A little perspective: The federal government spends a lot more on horses than Cheyenne — with an annual budget of $50 million — is spending on humans.
    report by the National Academy of Sciences released this month is not particularly hopeful, calling the current policy “expensive and unproductive.”
    The study points out that the more horses the government herds out of the wild, the more forage there is available in the wild, which actually may contribute to an increase in the wild horse population.
    That’s not a misprint: the more wild horses are removed, the more wild horses there will probably be.
    The report recommends an increase in the use of fertility control drugs to limit the population of the herds.
    The problem may be confounding, but the horses are majestic. There is something primitive in them that I found spellbinding as I watched the video. (A written version of the video can be found here.)
    This week’s Retro Report is the seventh in a weekly series that re-examines leading stories of decades past. The videos are typically 10 to 12 minutes long and are part of a collaboration between The New York Times and Retro Report, a documentary news organization formed last year.
    The online project was started with a grant from Christopher Buck. Retro Report, which has a staff of 12 journalists and six contributors, is a nonprofit video news organization that aims to provide a thoughtful counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle.
    Previous Retro Report videos can be found here.
    Visit the Retro Report Web site here.

    Sunday, June 16, 2013

    Horse Therapy Program for Long Island Seniors

    People need to realize and understand all that horses do for us!  Horses do SOO much - they helped make this country!  Horses are being betrayed by being slaughtered instead of being honored as the healers, companions and hard workers they are.  Every 3 minutes an American horse is slaughtered, every 3 minutes a horse is betrayed!  People need to help our horses just like they help us!!! ~Declan

    Horse therapy program for Long Island seniors

    Posted: Jun 12, 2013 10:09 PM EDTUpdated: Jun 12, 2013 10:42 PM EDT
    A horse therapy program on Long Island is giving some special seniors a chance to feel young again. It's designed to help them build trust, reminisce, and make new friends.
    Jeanine says when she was younger she was afraid of horses, but not anymore. Mick has won her over. Jeanine is one of eight residents of the Bristal Assisted Living Community on Long Island who has dementia and Alzheimer's disease who come here once a week to visit Mick and Gunther.
    The horse therapy program is called Horseability. It is located on the campus of SUNY Old Westbury.
    The residents spend 90 minutes brushing, feeding, and bonding with the horses.
    The program is such a success that three other assisted-facilities also come weekly. The horses always bring the smiles to the faces of seniors.
    The Horseability program also offers a wide range of horse-related programs for children and families with special needs.